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Motif and CDE 2.1 Style Guide Reference




A choice is an alternative, displayed as a label (text or graphics) on the screen that a user can choose. Choices are available via controls through which the user chooses values or invokes actions. Choices can be represented by push buttons, by menu items, or by check boxes. There are four types of choices:

  1. Action choices

  2. Dialog choices

  3. Cascading choices

  4. Value choices

    Action, dialog, and cascading choices are activated. Value choices are toggled.

  5. When to Use

    Provide a choice for every action that the user can invoke or for every value that the user can set or unset.


    Use the predefined label for each predefined choice, except when Yes, No, Apply, and OK are replaced by more descriptive labels.

    If a user changes the text label of a choice, reflect this change in the Help system.

    Use verbs to describe what occurs when the user activates an action or dialog choice.


    Identify a choice with a graphic, text, or both, depending on which best identifies the choice. For example, for a drawing application, use graphic patterns rather than text to represent the choices.

    Dynamically add text to a choice to make the meaning of that choice clearer in a given context. For example, changing the name of the Undo choice to Undo Typing clarifies the meaning and differentiates the choice from Undo Delete or Undo Apply.

    Do not change the function or label of a choice because the context changes and the functions are significantly different or opposite from one another, except for the labels of the OK or Apply button. Instead, provide different choices that may sometimes be unavailable as the state changes. This allows the user to see all of the actions that are available.

    For example, do not provide a push button labeled Pause/Resume (or a push button whose label changes from Pause to Resume) that would have the function of either pausing or resuming a process, depending on the current state. Instead, provide one push button labeled Pause and another push button labeled Resume and display unavailable emphasis on the one that is not available in the current context.

    You may change the label and function of a choice as the state changes if the functions are close variants of one another. For example, on the Edit menu, switch between Repeat and Redo as the state changes.

    Arrange related choices of the same type next to one another in a group; for example, arrange related check boxes in rows or columns, and use spacing, a separator, or a group box to separate the group from other controls.

    Pressing the SELECT button on a choice and then releasing the SELECT button on the same choice activates or toggles it.

    When focus is on an element that represents a choice, pressing Select or Space activates or toggles it.

    Essential Related Topics

    For more information, see the Action (Choice Type), Cascading (Choice Type), Control, Dialog (Choice Type), Menu (Control), and Value (Choice Type) reference pages.

    Supplemental Related Topics

    For more information, see the Information and Message Areas reference page.

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